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Watermill Blog -  Heavy work
8th April 2008

It was a select team today. Only Martyn, Colin, John, Richard and Jonathan turned up to be recorded in this watermill blog entry.

When we first arrive we all take our snacks and drinks into our rest area, currently in the hay-loft. There was a bit of a problem this morning, though. We had to push hard to get the door open.

jackdaw debris

The jackdaws are getting very determined to build a nest on the ledge above the door and this pile of sticks is what they have dropped since last Thursday. Richard's flask is there for comparison.

John and Jonathan have taken pity on the poor birds and arranged some timber to make a wider ledge. Even jackdaws can't balance a ten inch stick on a two inch wide ledge!

Martyn, Colin and Richard worked inside the mill, well mostly inside. The hurst post that we manouvered into position last Thursday needed to be bolted to the wall. Colin had obtained suitable long bolts, another helping hand from John Hall (West Midland Fasteners), thank you to them.

The wall is about twenty inches thick and the oak hurst post another six inches so these bolts are quite hefty. We had to line up the holes in the post with the holes in the brickwork quite precisely to get the bolts through. To add to the problem the top bolt had to be inserted from inside the mill as the waterwheel was in the way outside.

hurst post in place

Moving three hundredweight of oak in small increments proved to be a challenge, but an arrangement of levers and jacks that Heath Robinson might have designed gave us the control we needed.

Once the first bolt was in place it got a little easier to insert the second and third.

In the picture the top bolt is still to be trimmed to length but the bottom pair have been left long to secure the old repair back into position to retain the history of repairs to this damp corner of the hurst.

It was good to remove the acroprop that has been taking some of the weight of the millstones for the last few months. The extra room really does make working in that corner much easier!

John stayed out of the way while all this was going on, spending quite a lot of his time up a ladder glazing the repaired windows. Some of the putty had been overdosed with linseed oil, to become a sticky mess. Of course, John discovered this when he tried to roll a ball of putty in his hands. He did get his fingers unstuck eventually but was heard to mutter that everything, even the cookies sent by Mrs Martyn, tasted of linseed oil.

stable vent

Jonathan took on the job of bricking up the vents in the north wall of the stable.

We had discussed these with the planning and conservation authority who suggested we brick them up but left obvious signs.

Jonathan has replaced missing bricks so that all the openings are the same size and has now bricked up the opening with a single thickness of bricks so that they are quite obvious from inside as well as the outside.

A local has told us that these vents used to have vertical barred shutters like the much larger windows on the south side. When these fell into disrepair they were replaced by sacking, nailed over the openings. You may be able to make out the line of nails in the wooded lintel in the picture. There are similar nails in the brickwork below the opening and some of them still have traces of sacking.

We packed up for the day just in time to be in our cars before a very wintry shower arrived. Such a contrast to earlier in the day when we had eaten lunch 'al fresco' and at least one of our number dozed off in the sun.
Money will have to change hands if he doesn't want the photographic evidence to appear in this watermill blog.

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